I had one of the most disappointing meals in recent memory at Montrachet and wanted to relay it to fellow chowhounds, as well as determine if I am the only who has left Montrachet feeling the same way.
I hadn't been to Montrachet in some time, and decided to dine there recently. Despite praise in Zagat's and elsewhere, I have never considered Montrachet's food to be in quite the same league as places such as Cafe Boulud, Bouley Bakery, or the other top tier NYC French restaurants. I have continued to go there mainly because of the friendly, low-key atmosphere and for their incredible list of Burgundies (which are overpriced, but still offer some rare wines and vintages unavailable anywhere else in NYC). However, my recent meal was truly mediocre, which is highway robbery considering they charge $18 for a tomato salad appetizer and $30 and up for entrees.
A lobster appetizer actually tasted "off", as if the lobster had been prepared earlier and left in a fridge for too long. My duck entree with a fruit based sauce was too sweet to complement any sort of wine, and the duck itself was not flavorful. The presentation was also uninteresting. My date's dry-aged beef entree was tough, overcooked and couldn't hold a candle in terms of flavor or tenderness to any decent NYC steakhouse. The dessert was even mediocre. The only saving grace was a sauteed foie gras appetizer that, while not enthralling, was at least a good rendition of an old standard.
The most disappointing aspect of the dinner however, was the wine. Montrachet has an excellent list and for me the experience there has always been more about the wine than the food. Usually I go for an older bottle of Meursault or perhaps one of their more obscure red Burgundy bottlings. However, this time I asked the the wait staff to choose one of their favorites that I had not tried, vice choosing myself (the excellent sommelier I used to know has either left or had the night off). The waiter brought a red from a producer more famous for whites that he thought was a real find. I was expecting a great wine, but instead got more mediocrity - a simple red with decent fruit, but no balance, finesse, or complexity. At this point I could hardly take any more, but was on a romantic date and didn't want to be rude and complain or send a wine back and spoil what was left of my evening.
Out of curiosity, I later went to look up some reviews of this wine and found that Parker and the Wine Spectator had given it terrible scores (high 70's). While I don't always agree with wine ratings, in this case it served to confirm my observations. I also learned that I had spent $140 for a bottle that retails for about $35 (although I do realize that Burgundy pricing is subject to the vagaries of great demand and little supply so this may not be an entirely accurate current price). I still have to wonder whether the folks at Montrachet that night were misguided or if it was a deliberate effort to unload the highest profit margin bottle possible. Either way, the food and wine experience was inexcusable in light of the prices they charge. I basically paid over $350 for meal for two at Montrachet that couldn't match the $100 meal I had at Cafe Luxembourg earlier that week!
What's going on here? Anyone else suffered a similar experience? (a final note, this meal was prior to Sept. 11th - not sure if Montrachet is open now or not - and I do wish them the best despite my experience)
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